FILE - Remote Learning Sites, Denver, Colorado

Esperanza Raimirez works on a laptop in a classroom in Newlon Elementary School early Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, which is one of 55 Discovery Link sites set up by Denver Public Schools where students are participating in remote learning from a school in Denver.

(The Center Square) – Working parents are feeling the strain of the school year, as many schools in Illinois began the semester with entirely remote learning. A new survey shows having the kids at home for school is taking a toll on parent’s careers as well.

FlexJobs surveyed more than 2,500 parents and found 40% of working parents had to quit or reduce their hours because of remote learning. Of that number, 25% reduced their hours while 15% resigned their position. Of those who quit entirely, 38% of those do not plan to rejoin the workforce.

“For moms, dads, employers, and the workforce at large, these findings offer insights into what it’s really like to juggle parenting and a career, and how flexible work options (or the lack thereof) can impact decision-making,” said Sara Sutton, founder and CEO of FlexJobs.

State Rep. Deanne Mazzochi, R-Elmhurst, is the co-sponsor of a bill that would amend the state’s income tax act to include a remote learning education expanse credit. It notes that it will be “costly and burdensome to the State” if parents leave their jobs because their children cannot attend school in person. In addition to child care, expenditures eligible for the credit include materials necessary for online learning, tutoring, homeschool instruction and other services.

“Our parents are definitely hurting and they’ve definitely got a lot of unexpected costs that were caused as a result of the governor’s shutdown orders and I think we need to be taking some small steps,” Mazzochi said.

On top of added stress for parents, closing schools for COVID-19 could cost an estimated $700 billion in lost revenue and productivity, according to a report in Barron's.

Brie Weiler-Reynolds, career development manager and coach with FlexJobs, said some parents in the survey are having a difficult time dealing with the situation.

“There is a tremendous amount of guilt that you feel because you don’t think you are doing anything well, and so trying to coach yourself through the fact that nobody is doing everything really well right now and this is just how it has to be,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds advises employees to let a supervisor know about parental responsibility for remote learning. Parents should also develop a focused learning space for kids and remember to take breaks.

Staff Reporter

Kevin Bessler reports on statewide issues in Illinois for the Center Square. He has over 30 years of experience in radio news reporting throughout the Midwest.